- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) - Seattle police netted over 200 men in a massage parlor sex-sting operation this month.

The police department’s Vice and High Risk Victims Unit arrested 204 men in a 10-day period starting July 5 in the city’s University District, The Seattle Times reported (https://goo.gl/PSaB7i).

During their operation, police said they also seized over $22,000 in cash from men handing it over expecting sexual services from female undercover officers.

“We never anticipated this volume,” said Sgt. Tom Umporowicz of the business at the police-operated Euro Spa, the police department’s first sting operation of this kind.

He estimated court fines from the sting, at $2,733 for a first-time offender with repeat offenders paying more, will total at least $550,000.

Police set up shop in a massage parlor business formerly called Bamboo Spa, which police shut down in May over allegations of prostitution. Umporowicz said the woman who owns the building gave permission to use the space after learning what allegedly occurred at the former business. Detectives posted ads for Euro Spa on backpage.com.

“Most of these guys going to massage parlors think they’re fairly safe. And the sure thing is always part of the dynamic,” Umporowicz said, noting that not a single woman came into Euro Spa for a massage.

The men arrested came from all walks of life, he said, including two bus drivers, six architects, dozens of technology employees, construction workers, two surgeons, a dentist, a nurse, a journalist, a couple of attorneys, an executive with a sports-management company and an aspiring law- enforcement officer.

Most of the men arrested claimed they had just come in for a massage. But Umporowicz said the officers were coached specifically to be blatant in offers of sexual services and pricing to men who walked in or made appointments by phone.

Previously, men were often arrested and released, later receiving summonses in the mail. But now, it is stressed that whenever police resources allow, jail bookings are mandatory for men arrested for misdemeanor sexual exploitation.

The hope is that the experience of changing into orange jail garb, being photographed and fingerprinted, and undergoing the jail’s process of verifying names, addresses and phone numbers will serve as a future deterrent, Umporowicz said.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com


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